You work hard in the Louisiana shipyard, and you deserve to be safe every day on the job. When it comes to abrasive blasting, there are many hazards to your health and wellbeing. Your employer owes you every precaution to avoid them and keep you safe.
Louisiana shipyard abrasive blasting is most commonly used in vessel construction and in maintenance and repair jobs. Many jobs require blasting, from cleaning the hull to working on interior tanks. With a nozzle velocity of 650 – 1,700 feet per second, blasters are highly effective and used on docks, shipways, on board and at the pier. But, while effective, blasters can be very dangerous.
OSHA provides a complete online guide for employers to reduce the hazards of shipyard abrasive blasting for their employees. But they also provide a scary list of mishaps that can happen on the job. So, just what are the hazards?
- Toxic air contaminants: The huge amounts of dust that accompany blasting can contain highly toxic substances from both the base material used and from the surface being blasted. Most of these contaminants are various forms of metal, including aluminum, copper, arsenic, and titanium, to name a few. And none of them are good for your skin or lungs. For example, overexposure to arsenic can lead to skin, lung and even lymphatic cancers.
- High noise levels: The noise levels produced by abrasive blasting can cause permanent loss of hearing in those who run the equipment and any others nearby. Most of the noise is created by the discharge of compressed air from the nozzle. But you can also suffer hearing damage from the noise inside the operator’s helmet, from the impact of the air on the blast surface, from the air compressors and from exhaust systems and air releases.
- High-speed particles produced by the blaster can strike workers and become embedded in the skin, damage the eyes, produce cuts and cause burns. Also, static electricity caused by blasting can cause shocks, fires, and even explosions.
- Equipment failure: When hoses leak pressurized water or air, or when a hose is uncontrolled, serious injuries can occur, including loss of sight and amputation.
- Falls: Workers also face the risk of falling. This can be caused by surges in the blast pressure, shocks, and poor vision within the hood.
- Slips, Trips, and Heat: Finally, workers can slip on wet blasting jobs, trip on hoses and suffer heat-related illness on the blasting job.
Is Your Employer Taking Proper Shipyard Safety Precautions?
These blasting risks in Louisiana shipyards must be taken seriously. Your employer should provide you with the very best equipment, in good repair, to do the job. You should also have clear guidelines about protective gear and be provided with protective devices for your eyes, face, lungs, head, and feet.
Are the following OSHA safety practices in place in your shipyard?
- Your employer has found and is using an alternative to dangerous silica sand as a blasting agent.
- Blasting cabinets, rooms or other temporary enclosures are used to eliminate exposure to operators and bystanders.
- All blasting enclosures are well ventilated.
- Wet methods of blasting are used whenever possible to reduce risk of exposure to toxic air.
- All employees involved in shipyard abrasive blasting are required to practice good hygiene. Eating, drinking and smoking are prohibited by anyone in blasting areas. All employees shower and change clothes after work to protect their families and homes from toxic dust.
- Certified respirators of the correct type are used in and around all blasting operations.
- Other personal protective equipment, including eye and face protection, protective helmets, heavy gloves and aprons, safety shoes or boots, hearing protectors and fall protection are provided and used on the blasting site.
- The air in enclosed workspaces is regularly tested, and measures are taken to reduce any exposure to heavy metals or other toxic elements.
- All employees involved in abrasive blasting are trained and made aware of how to control physical and health hazards.
- Blast hoses are equipped with safety devices to control static electricity, provide emergency shut-off, hose whip checking, and hose-coupling safety locks.
If you or a loved one has been injured during a shipyard abrasive blasting job, you may be wondering if your employer did everything possible to protect you. If you have questions, the maritime attorneys at The Young Firm would love to answer them. Although we are based in Louisiana, we handle cases throughout the United States. Call toll free today at 866-715-3664. Your employee rights are important to us.